• Our software update is now concluded. You will need to reset your password to log in.
  • Please note that the site will be down briefly around 10AM EST, 23 February, for planned maintenance.
  • Welcome to PokéCommunity! Register now and join one of the best places on the 'net to talk Pokémon and more! Community members will not see the bottom screen advertisements.

[PKMN FULL] Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Code Labyrinth [M] [IC]

Hyzenthlay

[span=font-size: 16px; font-family: cinzel; color:
7,807
Posts
11
Years

The Setting

Become your favourite Pokémon and embark on an adventure like no other in PokéWorld+, the latest in virtual reality! Explore vast lands, master your element, battle against other players, or rally your allies to loot dungeons and take on powerful AI! Your guild awaits, Player! Let nothing stand in your way!
Remember to take regular breaks!

Or so things used to be. The more PokéWorld+ develops through its players, the thinner the line between "virtual" and "reality" become. Many question whether the AI residing here, like the Porygon themselves, are living, sentient beings. And now, with a malicious entity running rogue in the system, this has never been more true.

The entity, rumoured to have spawned from the world itself, disrupts everything it touches. They call it the "M̷̢͗͐̚͝í̵̻̉s̷͔͈̖͍̥̀̎̎s̴͉͖̙̓̃i̸͖͚͎̜̣͐͝ñ̷̦͙g̵͎͍̘̜̓ ̴̧̺͈̉́̂Ń̸̖̓͛̆ó̴̬̣͉.̸̼̈́̑̀̓͜". Many pockets of the world have glitched as the virus spreads. The Porygon labelled these hostile places "Mystery Dungeons"; shapeshifting labyrinths that defy the laws of the game. So little is known about them—except that whoever was in these areas at the time of glitching now lie trapped in a comatose state in the real world, their consciousness unable to escape. All plans for a system shut-down have been terminated: aborting these players forcibly from the system has shown to induce dangerous seizures. Further attempts may result in human fatality.

The Porygon who maintain the safety and balance of PokéWorld+ need your help to restore it. They, like all the other AI, turn hostile and corrupted when they enter a dungeon. But in order to root out and isolate the M̶̧̿̀i̷͙̬̒́s̶͙͆͜ͅs̸̨̯͙̾̉̕ì̷̛͙̞͋n̷̠͎̄̔g̵̠͚̉ ̸̹͈̄̕͜N̸̯̋̆͐ŏ̴͖͕., they must purge Mystery Dungeons from their world.

And so it came to be that Rescue Teams were formed.

You are the first among them. There's no telling what's in store.


Poke-World.gif



The Rescue Team



The Objective

Scour every floor to find the missing players and escort them out of the dungeon. Ensure that everyone escapes. The Mystery Dungeon, The Garden of Stone, reportedly consists of 5 floors.

Your skills as individuals and as a team will determine your success, but beware: fate's dice may divert your path. Certain actions and events will trigger a roll of two six-sided dice (2d6), which will be rolled against the relevant skill point to account for modifiers. Rolling a 10+ is total success, 7-9 a partial success, and 6 or lower a failure, altering the severity of the consequences.

Some events may be determined by rolling one 20-sided die (1d20). The target number will vary depending on the situation and characters involved. Mystery Dungeons are volatile, devious—almost sentient, and will try to thwart you every step of the way.

Missing Players:

lost-girl-1.png

Janey Blackwood
clefairy.gif

lost-girl-3.png

Amelia Rose
buizel-f.gif

lost-girl-2.png

Felicity Fairbright
swanna.gif


Location:

The Garden of Stone was once a secluded area known for its crumbling ruins, giant, crystal-like formations, rambling vegetation, and pools of clear blue water, where evolution stones can sometimes be found. Now corrupted by the glitch, it has morphed into a twisted, ever-shifting maze of its surroundings, filled with traps, loot, and hostile AI that attack on sight. The area is broken into floors that go against all laws of physics, only reachable by random stairways. AI take the form of Pokémon in this world and are becoming difficult to distinguish from real players. Be careful who you trust.

1000_F_551801977_FocskKqg2Em1UwYNfEncYWL9MAr3pxmn.jpg



The Beginning

Nothing seems to have changed. The archway marking the entrance to the Garden of Stone stands as it always has, half-hidden in creeping ivy and overgrown shrubs. Crumbling stone walls span out on either side, enclosing the peninsular, and beyond them you spy a canopy of treetops, their foliage pierced by giant crystals and abandoned turrets. You hear the ocean gently lapping around you.

The only give-away that something is amiss is the anxious trio of Porygon staring fixedly into the garden, as though anticipating a sudden attack. All Porygon look alike, but you know who they are. They're the ones who inducted you into this mission, the ones who told you the details of the Glitch, the anomalies of Mystery Dungeons, and the dangers that the three lost girls now face. Dangers that await you just beyond the garden walls.

As you approach, the Porygon turn to regard you, waiting to send you off into the unknown...



 
Last edited:
6,592
Posts
1
Years
A new adventure!

En route to the Garden of Stone, FCG had made sure she was well rested and her belly full. She had already come here before. Exploring the ruins, admiring the crystal-like formations, voluntarily losing herself in the foliage and even swimming underwater to try and find an eventual secret passageway!

The Glitch affecting this area and the rest of the PokéWorld+ was as saddening as it was intriguing. Saddening due to the danger it brought to this wonderful creation, where gamers could have so much fun together, but also intriguing due to its nature and cause being unknown…

Where had it come from? Was it tied to the Porygon, inhabitants of the virtual world?
FCG vowed she would not leave the place without revealing the truth behind the whole affair. And not without retrieving the missing players and making sure they were safe and sound, of course!
Yet, she was not too worried, as she was sure the other rescuers who would go in with her were all skilled and knew the importance of strategy and teamwork.

It was thus with an excited and bright smile that she arrived at the archway and spotted the awaiting trio of Porygon, eager to meet the team and start their rescue mission.

"Hello!"
 
Last edited:

Eleanor

Princess Era 🎀
6,546
Posts
7
Years
Christine Stahel
@brilliantchristal
Pokémon Data: Mismagius
Levitate / Recovery Scarf
Dark Pulse • Curse • Pain Split • Ally Switch
STR: 7 • CON: 8 • DEX: 14 • INT: 15 • WIS: 14 • CHA: 13

A Meaningful Prologue

"Oh goodness, you're taking this way too seriously."

The door in front of Chrissy has opened, and a smug look meets her eyes as she walks in. "My birthday, my rules. Everyone, welcome Christine to the party!"

Helen, Chrissy's best friend from school - and a Technoblast member, of course - is turning 21. She's celebrating the occasion in her house with a bunch of known faces, as well as a few people that look completely new to Chrissy. All of them seemingly wearing their fanciest outfit, which is one of the 'rules' that Helen mentioned.

Seeing her friends like that is such a stark contrast to the other times she's met them - be it at school, on a video call, at a random fast food joint or whatever. Seeing herself dolled up like that is also strange - especially because most of the parties she's been at straight up don't require this kind of dress code. Chrissy has indeed decided to oblige, but only because she trusts Helen more than anything - and even then, she's picked something classy, but simple.

Her outfit consists of a black dress, black boots, minimal makeup, and her long black hair loose as usual. That only makes her look paler than she already is, but she still seems to fit in well with the group. Flamboyant outfits and vivid colors are still a rare sight at this party, with the only exception seemingly being Helene herself. She's rocking an expensive looking blue dress and the highest, reddest heels of anyone at the party.

Chrissy has so many questions, most of which she'd probably be better keeping to herself anyways. But hey, at least the colors do make sense thinking about the Pokémon she uses in Technoblast. She definitely will not miss having that Gigalith around, due to Sand Stream, but that she could not help but respect for how strong it could be.

In any case, it's better to put all of those intrusive thoughts aside. This is not her party anyways, she had no say in how to organize it, might as well enjoy her stay and free up her mind.

More eyes start to gravitate towards her as the party continues. Why? She's being her usual self - a wallflower, that is - so why are people she doesn't know interested in her? Who are they anyways? Those questions are promptly answered by Brendan, one of the new guys.

He's the shy kind. He needs to state his credentials for daring to talk with a girl. "I'm from Technoblast too. Been at it for… longer than you probably. We just played together for very little time."

When Christine's cheeks turn red, they're very noticeable. So it'd better not happen just yet. "Oh, cool! Who are you in the game?"

"Escavalier."

"Wait, that Escavalier? You're really good!"

"T-thank you. You too, by the way. That one time we played together and you warped me behind all the enemies was fantastic."

Chrissy smiles in self-complacency. "Glad you found it useful."

The guys behind Brendan seem to cheer him on and Chrissy keeps talking with him for a while. But a bad feeling seems to creep up. Her best friend eventually confirms it.

"So yeah, Chrissy - there's some people in Technoblast that wanted to meet you in person before you do that… thing. Brendan even came from out of the city. And I just thought, we should all look nice and…"

"What's this then, a funeral of some kind? Helen…"

The blonde girl tries to shut her up. "You sure are dressed properly. But I'd rather not. That said…" She takes a deep breath. "We are programmers. We don't take chances, not even the slimmest."

Chrissy is starting to tremble. It sure feels like her prowess at PokéWorld+ is being doubted, but at the same time, she knows what she's signed up for and what kind of things might happen to her… they definitely won't happen, she doesn't want to think about it entirely, but…

No!

"Hm… I just think you're s-so brave, Christine. Helen told me about your plans…" Brendan timidly chimes in. He looks so unassuming and so courageous at the same time, to say something like that. The other people around him all nod in approval, while Chrissy just looks unimpressed. The usual talking points, she's heard them all already - the physical consequences, the issues with studying and being in the game for something so important at the same time, the time she could spend with the rest of Technoblast, and countless more.

"Aren't games like these meant to be just fun escapism? The moment they start to hurt their players, what's the point in playing? We could never create a game like that, right?"

"Yeah," Helen adds. "That's true. A game is fun when it's virtual. It's all virtual reality."

"Reality."

"Virtual… virtual." Helen hammers the point.

"R e a l i t y."

It's a successful mic drop for Chrissy. She's tall enough that she can look at most of the other people from higher up, and she definitely uses that to her advantage as she stands still and waits for an answer.

"I hope that makes you understand how I feel about this. It's already too important for me."

Brendan nods. A tear seems to fall from his eyes - although Chrissy is not sure about that, since she's on her way to the bathroom already. Once she gets there and looks at herself in the mirror, her cheeks have definitely turned red.
 
37,467
Posts
16
Years
  • Age 33
  • Seen Jan 2, 2024
_prologue

90 % of the playerbase of PokéWorld+ choose unevolved, cute, often small variants of the pocket monsters creatures as their avatars. Many aren't even interested in battling at all. There are so many ways to make money in this world, and even if you suck at making money, there are many other ways in which you can waste your precious playtime and be fully satisfied. Apparently.

AB doesn't understand 90 % of the playerbase. They are much like his sister would be if she ever actually started playing this: happy-go-lucky and aimless. Sure, the real world sucks these days. For at least 90 % of the world's population, in one way or another (he doesn't have a source on that, but it sounds likely after just a glance outside the window). AB wouldn't be playing a game like this the way they play it. That would be a waste. Of time, of energy, of life.

His avian eyes open, back in the VR landscape for the first time in days - traveling all the way from Alola to this IRL meetup was hellish. He had wifi most of the way - anything else would have been an absolute insult - and could keep in touch with his friends and followers and watch them play. He could even connect with his PW+ avatar and do some daily tasks... That didn't require exploration or battling at least. But he had not been able to properly enter VR for days. He was practically itching now. It had been hell. Only a tiny, background part of him pauses to wonder when this interest had become an obsession, an addiction. But that part is so tiny that it is quickly silenced by the relief of stretching his wings and long feathery legs again.

There is nothing like the real PW+ experience. Nothing.

"Nothing so far" say the experts, and maybe they're right. But right now, this is where he is.

They had only briefly met IRL as they emerged from their assigned living quarters for the duration of the mission, and took their places in the specialized VR suites prepared for these exceptional few. A bunch of extremely different people, all seemingly young (although not as young as him), some quiet and timid and others loud and bossy. He had barely bothered to register their names, nor actually talk with them. It did not matter to AB. They have a job to do, a challenge to overcome. And AB isn't going to let IRL social awkwardness get in the way. He might as well get to know their avatars before their human sonas. Or only get to know their avatars.

He has gathered his items and leaves his PW+ living quarters. They're quite expensive as he's not part of a guild, but with the amount of quests he completes daily (well, except for the past couple of days...) he can afford it. And the reward for this particular mission? It's bound to be astronomical. Or else he'll complain in public.

There are ways to teleport around this world, especially if you are of a relatively high strength level and wealth, like AB is. It doesn't take him too long to arrive at their final destination: The Garden of Stone.

To his chagrin, he is not the first to arrive. Fork. Maybe he should have rented living quarters in another settlement after all. Nah. This can work to his favor.

He takes a deep breath, and decides to take to the sky before they can spot him (although the Porygons likely already sense his presence, what with their near omniscence). With a downwards swoop he intends to be dramatic and intense, he lands a mere couple of meters in front of the waiting Gardevoir. Unfortunately, he slips on a big leaf on the ground at the last second, and has to flail a tiny bit to keep himself upright.

.... urgh.

He pretends it didn't happen, and looks up at the waiting quartet.

"Yo," he says, immediately regretting it. What a lame first greeting. He's so glad this isn't being live streamed.

Wait. It is, isn't it?

Fu-

 
551
Posts
11
Years
Prologue

"Whew, right, okay."

Any unfamiliar observer would find this a very odd scene indeed. A tiny tree pacing back and forth whilst mumbling to himself is surely a sight that would force many to take a second peak. However, for Oliver, this was becoming all too common.

"So we have all these people that actually know what they're doing. And then somehow me?! Ahhh!"

All the doubts from the past few weeks had been growing and growing and now the time was there, he could no longer suppress them in the way he had been so accustomed to back home. No. This time was serious business.
Oliver had originally played PokeWorld+ very early on after the game's release and this fact haunted him. Why? Because he wasn't that good at the game, not one bit. Of course, he had cleared most battles before and ranked reasonably highly. High enough that his application to be a part of this team had been accepted. But his successes were very rarely his own. Evidenced by this was the fact that he was still an unevolved Bonsly. Being one of the first 10000 players and still not evolving was hugely embarrassing for him, and he always brushed it off as preferring the cute little Bonsly look, or not needing to evolve to be relevant, but the simple fact was he just couldn't earn it.

Having played in teams almost the entire time he would be able to leech off his teammates' combat prowess. He would charge in first, hit as hard as he could and then hope his teammates could follow it up for the KO! Most of the time, it worked! On a very rare occasion, he might not even need a follow-up! And other times still, he would either miss and harm himself or he would end up the focus of all the attacks whilst running around as fast as his little legs would allow him!
People always seemed to compliment him for this,
"Wow, great leash!" or "The way you locked down the enemy, that was so impressive!"
But in reality, he had no idea what he was doing. Why was everyone so happy to see him run around cluelessly?

Even his username was even a mistake!

"LeeroyWho indeed..." he mumbled. "Doomed from the start."

It had meant to be a reference to a player from another game, but he had ended up typing an extra E! He tells everyone that it's intentional and that the name he had wanted was already in use, so this was his way of keeping the same fit. When in reality, he just made yet another mistake.
He'd been able to use his early adopter status, and his seemingly infinite luck, to team with all the greats but now he felt the luck had worn out.

"Everyone's going to see this. Ahhhhh how embarrassing! I can't save anyone!"

He gave a quick look around, making sure no one had approached just yet. He was safe, for now, to finish his master plan. His plan was to try and ride his luck and reputation as long as he good. And in doing so he'd come up with the genius idea of setting a great first impression which everyone would remember, enabling him to use that as cover for his future mistakes. Due to this, he'd been awake for some time already logged in and waiting at the meet point, hoping to give off the impression of someone that really knew what they were doing.

Doing one last turn of the path, he decided that the best course of action would be to hit the first enemy pokemon they saw as hard as he possibly could and just hope it was enough to KO on contact. There was little else he could do. He'd continue trying to be a team player and listen as best he could, but plans never stuck in his head. Just so many terms! Dps this, apm that. He was just happy to be there most of the time.

"All right, let's do this, Leeroy."

The Bonsly shook his branches and looked up, just in time to see a Decidueye expertly swoop down and land in the most bizarre fashion he'd ever seen and dismissed his incredible new landing by not even acknowledging it that Oliver's mind filled with self doubt once again.
"These people are pros, they're inventing new tactics all the time! " he thought to himself with a sigh. He was clearly out of his depth.
 
1,741
Posts
6
Years
The entrance to the Garden of Stone looked no different compared to how it did five months ago, yet it evoked a very different reaction in Humphrey now compared to his first visit.

When he first visited the Garden of Stone, Humphrey was still an unevolved Growlithe. He was with a couple of his friends, Nathan and Alexis. The three of them had come to the Garden of Stones to look for evolutionary stones, as the area was known as a place where evolutionary stones were found somewhat frequently, as well as one of the few places in the game where moon stones can be found. At the time he was amazed by the elaborate ruins and the majestic crystal-like formations, and his evolution is one of his most cherished memories of the game so far.

However, now the Garden of Stone evoked a sense of anxiety in Humphrey. He was worried about what might happen to the players trapped inside it, and it also made him worry about the glitch spreading to other places in the game he was familiar with, potentially trapping people he knew inside other mystery dungeons. His mind raced with thoughts about all the horrible things that could happen to him and the other volunteers if something would go wrong, before he remembered what Nathan said to him before he left for Kanto.

"Bernard, don't be so hard on yourself. They accepted you for this rescue mission because you are a decent player, and they wouldn't have if you weren't. You're going to be fine out there."

With Nathan's words of encouragement in his mind, Humphrey rushed down the trail to meet up with the other team members.
 

Eleanor

Princess Era 🎀
6,546
Posts
7
Years
Code-Labyrinth-resize.png
Enter the Dungeon!

At last, the motley team of would-be rescuers were assembled outside the Garden of Stone. Earth, flame and flora, dark magic and psychic power: their energies mingled in the air, a clash of uncertainty and determination. Not even the sun could dispel this tension as it peeked over the Eastern Sea.

Pixel, the Porygon-Z, Techno the Porygon2, and Larry (who never did figure out how to evolve) looked over their chosen heroes with sudden doubt. Their arrival had been disorganised, their formation lazy, and a not-quite-friendly distance now hovered between them. One would think they hadn't rehearsed their positions on the team, let alone synergised a strategy! What a thought to entertain. Of course they had.

…Pixel decided to test this theory. "Attention! All players: present. Rescue operation is about to commence. Will the team leader please step forward!"

Arrowbranch, or AB as the Decidueye suggested others call him, reacted as soon as the words 'team leader' were heard. Sound traveled and was processed fast in this digital reality. His reaction was not to step forward, however. Leader? He didn't want to bother with that role. He was going to focus on the goal regardless of what a 'leader' said, anyways. Instead, he just crossed his arms immediately and glanced with a skeptical face over at the others. They had not really decided on a leader. Or a team name, for that matter. And the bunch of humans he had briefly seen in real life had not exactly been a reassuring bunch (except one or maybe two). But just looking at this pokémon bunch, he was sure that the spot in front of the Porygon was not going to be empty for many seconds.

FCG, on the other hand, had happily greeted every member of the team as they had arrived. She politely repressed a chuckle at AB's landing, then another when the bird Pokémon voiced their peculiar greeting: The last thing she wanted was to risk their chances for a good start in this adventure! While waiting with a smile for the Porygon to speak, she reviewed the team's composition. So, there was her, a Decidueye, a Bonsly, an Arcanine, a Mismagius and an Infernape. Bonsly could be their tank, going in while Decidueye, Mismagius and her would back the little Pokémon up. Infernape and Arcanine could switch between close range and ranged attacks if nee--

The Porygon-Z interrupted her thoughts when they spoke. … Wait. Team leader? About to commence? No no no no no, the team was not ready at all! What about strategy? The Gardevoir's smile now looked forced as she looked left and right and tried to think of something to say.

Leeroy was thankful, for possibly the first time, that a Bonsly had no visible arms. He was wringing his hands together so fast that it could have been mistaken for a TaiChi exercise. He'd politely greeted the others and hoped that he had been as opaque as possible. When a leader was required he quickly glanced at the others from the corner of his eye. This was easy to get away with, being significantly shorter than the others.

A brilliant idea flashed across his mind. What better way to act like you know what you're doing than to take a leadership position? This was perfect! Just stroll on in with confidence, delegate all the tough decisions, maintain the appearance of someone that really gets things done. If he was the one asking all the questions, then no one would be able to ask him any questions! Genius! He was now leaning forward with anticipation and slowly put one tiny little foot forward before giving a quick glance towards each of his teammates.

Chrissy had spent most of her time with the group just being professional, so to speak, and studying the other teammates once that were all together in-game. But now that she heard the word 'Leader'... Her mind started racing. On one hand, she could easily be the one - she had the confidence and possibly even the need to boss around other players to perform at her best. On the other hand, the pressure might have been too much to handle, especially if she turned out not to get along with the other players.

She had grown kind of apathetic towards the risks involved with the mission. She was not even that interested in what kind of enemies or items or whatever other thing she might have come across in the Garden of Stone - a place she had already seen way too many times to count. But that was more of a defence mechanism. The desire to succeed was burning within her.

The adrenaline kept rising as her eyes jumped between the other Pokémon. Especially the tiny Bonsly showing signs of… movement. And now her eyes were fixed on him. Will he really…?

TK had her arms crossed over her chest, glancing over at her other teammates. She hadn't been one for pleasantries, only having given them a curt nod of acknowledgement. She didn't really have anything against any of them — except for the Decidueye, who rubbed her the wrong way for some reason — but it wasn't in her nature to really open up to talk. Even with the guild she regularly played with, she hardly did more than awkward small talk here and there between matches.

Even still, a team was a team. This wasn't about shooting the shit and making friends. Whatever their reasons, they were all here for one very specific purpose. Nothing else really mattered, just like how everything would melt away once the fighting started and the fists started flying.

Upon hearing the Porygon-Z talk about who was going to step up to the plate for being a leader, TK uncrossed her arms and strode forward confidently. However, it seemed the Bonsly was trying to step forward and claim the mantle for himself. Admittedly, he was making an admirable effort to seem confident, but there was a slight jitteriness to his movements that gave him away. While still moving forward, she moved over to the left to get closer to the Bonsly and get into his personal space. She'd see for herself if the little guy would fold or let her take the reins.

Humphrey was the last to arrive to the meeting, and as such tried to give his greetings to the players quickly, even if his greetings did end up being shorter than what he would have liked. Barely two minutes after he arrived the Porygon-Z asked them who was their leader, and Humphrey froze up. While he was never much of the leader type in general, he worried that if no one volunteered that the others might pick him to be the leader, a position he desperately did not want to be in. After all, the Porygon had already assigned him as the designated bag carrier, having spawned a large, overladen saddlebag over his back, strapped securely but uncomfortably under his belly.

To his relief, both the Bonsly and the Infernape stepped forwards for the position of leader. He was intrigued by what might happen now that two people had volunteered for the role. Would they let both of them share the leadership role or would the rest of them have to vote to pick one as their leader, or possibly something else altogether?

Leeroy's heart dropped. As he'd moved forward, the most intimidating Pokémon of everyone present had confidently swaggered towards him to take the leadership spot. It wasn't a big deal to him, he knew he wouldn't have been a great leader. It takes more than faux motivational speeches to succeed as a leader, and that's about all he could have managed. But to back down timidly was a sure-fire way for him to be looked down on by everyone here. How could he dismiss the situation and try to ease the tension between these titans of the game?

"Ohhhh nice! Yeah this is all yours TK, you got this. An absolute beast like you in charge, they may as well just hand us back the girls now."

Arrowbranch merely rolled his eyes at the display.

All yours?

Bonsly probably forgot to look up. Chrissy was still eyeing him, and she was not happy with that sudden turnaround. He went from being the first one to consider the possibility of leading the team, to nonchalantly praising the next volunteer and making it seem like everyone in the group was already on board with this. To his credit, TK did look like a good option and Chrissy would have been fine with 'losing the leader spot' to her. But not so fast. Not without having a say.

So she swapped places with Leeroy before he could do any more damage. With Ally Switch, she teleported precisely to his location, and as a side effect, transported him three or four Bonslys up in the air.

Leeroy fell to the ground from quite a height for such a small Bonsly. Thankfully, being made of rock, it did more damage to the soft ground underneath. But he felt the shockwave shoot up his body, slightly enhanced from the shock of what just happened to him. That's not quite what I had in mind. But I guess it's no longer my problem now. He thought to himself. Hoping that he'd not made himself look too much of a clueless little tree, he nervously hopped on the spot, trying to shake off the damage, physical and emotional, of being flung about like that.

"Heavens above!" Pixel tooted, breaking out of character when its precious recruit dropped from the sky. "Let's have a little less of that in our strategies, hm?" it suggested with a short, jittery laugh.

AB now raised an eyebrow at the sudden unannounced antics of the Mismagius, still not interested in joining in whatever was going on here, but at least keen on judging how stupid or smart his companions' ideas were.

Completely unfazed by the side effect of her trickery, Chrissy had her eyes on the prize. "Gotta say, you look fit for the job," she said, rising from beneath and getting right up against the Infernape. "So, what kind of strategies do you like? What do you have in mind for us?"

"You want strats, eh?" TK smirked and punched her fist into her palm. "I got all the strats we need right here. Me and my fists! I got plenty of experience leadin' the way into a fight, and I can keep the heat off the support and long-range attackers. That's all ya really need."

The Mismagius shook her head. "Alright, that's cool and all… but you only seem to care about leading yourself. See the difference?" A quick look to the others was granted before she continued. "If I'm not part of your plans, I won't get anything from your leadership, and I won't accept that. It's simple."

FCG had looked at Leeroy, TK and Chrissy's reactions with uncertainty. Would the team accept a leader right away? Unable to find anything constructive to say, the Gardevoir had elected to stay back and watch how this would go, but that changed the moment the Ghost type Pokémon asked about strategies. Excited at this opportunity to be useful, FCG stepped forward. She stopped a second in befuddlement when TK exposed her "strategy". THAT was her strategy!? Shaking her head, she quickly gathered her thoughts and resumed walking, a finger raised. "Well, I do have a good strategy in mind!"

"Yes?" Chrissy turned around to face Gardevoir, curious to hear what she had to say but at the same time wary of facing another challenger.

"Leeroy goes first, and AB, you and me are behind him to back him up. Humphrey and TK take our flanks so they can move and shift between ranged and close combat whenever needed! Before going in though, Leeroy uses Stealth Rock, so that any foe coming in will take damage! TK, AB and you start with one Nasty Plot, and I with Calm Mind. Then we switch to offensive moves depending on the situation!" The Psychic type Pokémon concluded her words with a confident nod.

TK scoffed. "I don't have a Nasty Plot to use, genius. You want to support me —" She quickly glanced over at the Mismagius, then added with a sigh, and Leeroy, and Humphrey, that's all good. Great, even. But if you wanna lead me, then ya gotta do it right."

"You don't—wait, no. I don't want to lead! But I do know a thing or two about strategies so I could still be the team's strategist, or advisor if you prefer! Ok. The others can use Nasty Plot while you go in melee with Leeroy!" Gardevoir replied, earning herself a facepalm from Chrissy.

Leeroy stopped for a moment and thought really hard. Stealth Rock? What's a Stealth Rock..? Leeroy decided to keep quiet when it came down to strategy, lest his companions found out that he was woefully unfit to be part of such a journey. He smiled at the Gardevoir, who smiled back at him, and nodded, confidently.

At this point, AB couldn't help but letting a loud, drawn out groan escape him, surely easily heard by everybody else.

"Look," he said, eyes on the three girls. "I'm used to going through this game solo, and it's working well enough even though I'm a bit of a glass cannon. I get that miss princess over here might be used to being in guilds where she gets to dictate what moves others have, and that lady witch over there prefers everyone catering to her personal whims, but let's face it: we're not a well oiled group, we're a bunch of separate supposed stars who each have our own strengths, and we're almost completely unknown to each other. So, how about we see what our focus and strengths are, decide who goes first and who stays back, test it out in the first encounter and then regroup and change whatever didn't work?"

With all the talk of strategy going on, Humphrey realised that he should probably chime in. "Hey, I've got Helping Hand for when someone else's attack needs to hit harder." Humphrey then shifted his weight nervously.

AB gestured approvingly with a wing in the Arcanine's direction. "Now that's more like it, see? Big Doggo helps. Probably also breathes fire." He pointed to himself next. "Shady Owl shoots Grass arrows from afar and can Spirit Shackle enemies to the spot sometimes." He went on to point to TK and Leeroy. "Ape Strong punch bad guys up front, and Small Stump uses his head. Literally. They're naturally the front line."

Lastly, he turned to the magical girls again, back to a grumpy, almost bored look that his Decidueye face compounded brilliantly. "Now do you guys have anything useful to contribute, or are you going to meditate on calm minds and nasty plots or swap places with the rest of us unannounced the whole battle?"

FCG's head turned towards the Decidueye when they groaned. The more she listened to the Bird Pokémon, the more irritated her expression grew. First, the Infernape scoffed at her, and now this one came in! Assuming she meant to dictate anything? Doubting her usefulness? Calling her "Miss Princess"? The nerve! Yes, the team needed a strategy to agree on, THAT was why she was suggesting hers! The Gardevoir's mood had truly turned upside down at that point, and she threw a glowering gaze at the Bird Pokémon.

"I will have you know, Grumpy Pants, that the moves I mentioned ARE parts of the very best movesets for the related Pokémon in PokéWorld Plus, so sorry if I assumed those picked for this important mission had great chances to know them! As for my own contribution, I happen to have Psychic, one of the strongest moves of its type, and Dazzling Gleam, Fairy type, to hit two opponents at once, both S.T.A.B.!"

AB blushed at the implication that his choice of moveset wasn't optimal and started to quip back: "My moves are—"

…but a small voice within him reminded him that he might be on camera for more than his forgiving followers right now, so he somehow managed to rein himself in quickly.

"Urhm. Yeah, there you go," he said instead, although voice not entirely steady. "Miss Princess shoots magic from afar. Lady witch-hat?"

Lady Witch-hat had her eyes glowing at the chance of snapping back. She was able to keep calm and listen to the others without interrupting them - in part due to the fact that her Ally Switch didn't seem to be that well received - but now that she was given the spotlight, she was going to use it to the fullest. She dramatically fixed her imaginary glasses before replying to AB, loud enough that everyone could hear her. The slightly echoed, eerie effect on her voice that was apparently part of the Mismagius experience only worked further in her favour.

"You got me! Almost right on everything! Lady witch-hat sure loves everyone catering to her personal whims. Lady witch-hat loves swapping places with you unannounced the whole battle. And yet Lady witch-hat is actually not used to play this game solo, but with a pretty good team."

She went through her current 'team' once again, now that she heard everyone talk, and… yeah, none of them would really work as a leader she'd be happy to follow. She floated around to get their attention and made her next, big move. "I'm a supporter with all sorts of niche moves - sorry Gardevoir, no Nasty Plot - and if I am here today it's got to be because those moves and strategies have a lot of potential. But if you want to get some use out of me instead of, you know… get flung around without warning, we'd better coordinate each other. Since Pixel here has been waiting enough, just let me go forward. I won't be breathing down your neck all the time, I won't waste too much time with motivational speeches I'm not even good at, but I sure believe that I know what I'm doing. You have ten seconds to object. Nine, eight…"

"Great," AB grumbled and went back to crossing his arms. "You want to be responsible for us, fine by me."

FCG grunted at AB's nickname for her, then took a deep breath to calm her mind. Now was not the time to make a scene. Three players in need were waiting for them! Chrissy seemed best fit to lead the team, being used to teamwork as well as more bearable than the fist loving Infernape and Grumpy Pants… The Embrace Pokémon nodded approvingly at the Mismagius.

TK clenched her hand into a fist and scowled at Chrissy. Where the hell did she get off being all high and mighty with them? TK knew damn well how to lead, how to throw herself into the thick of it, how to rally her teammates, how to best crush her enemies. She didn't need any lectures on it by the Mismagius. Based on the reactions she'd seen from everyone else, however, it was clear that TK wasn't really winning anyone over to her side. The team that had been assembled here was very different to the one she was used to playing with. They didn't respond well to the swaggering and brute force that she usually did.

Maybe if this was a brand new group that she was going to play with for the foreseeable future she'd let Chrissy have it. She very much wanted to. Prolonging this, though, was going to waste even more time and take away from everything that she and everyone else needed to do.

Curse her soft spot for the helpless.

"Fine," TK grunted. "You can lead. Long as you can recognize that we ain't on that kumbaya shit, you can bet your fucking ass I'll be the best damn fighter you've ever seen!"

"Great, now that's decided, let's go! Let's go!" Leeroy's anxiety levels were starting to rise once again with talks of "optimal this" and "expert that", he just wanted to get in there and get things done at this point. Now the team looked to have settled on a leader; he was nervously bouncing on the balls of his little feet, repeating his own expertly crafted plan in his head. Just hit the first one really hard. Just hit the first one really hard. Just hit…

Chrissy continued her countdown all the way, but it was mostly to buy time and adjust herself to her new role. For all her big talk, she didn't expect things to end up this way, and that became even clearer to her when she found out that… talking to Pixel was making her needlessly nervous. A team leader wasn't just a strategist or a coordinator, but also the motivator and — in this case — the public relations manager. A few bad questions from Pixel could mean trouble for her, only a few minutes since taking up her position. But nevertheless, they had waited enough. And they were likely going to do most of the talking anyway.

"Here we go. And don't worry Pixel, I'll use my skills with more care when we're in."

The three Porygon watched the spectacle unfold with flustered bewilderment oddly present on their immobile faces. That did not go as expected. All Pixel wanted was for one player to stroll up smoothly to the call of leader, demonstrating that they had, in fact, some semblance of a plan—which included electing a leader before the last minute. This was looking increasingly like one of those adventure reality TV shows that the humans enjoyed so much. Humans were such inscrutable creatures.

...Unless, that was exactly it! This show of levity was expertly improvised, their way of asserting confidence over the situation. These players were acting out for the camera. Pixel's eyes suddenly seemed to sparkle. What professionals!

"Stepping up is user: brilliantchristal! Commence applause. This member of guild: Technoblast serves with the heart of Cobalion. A necessary quality for leading a team into near-certain doom and bearing the responsibility of their lives. Brilliantchristal, on behalf of your team, do you have any last words to share with the world before your perilous expedition?"

On cue, a Masquerain drone hovered down from the sky and narrowed in on Chrissy, her team waiting expectantly around her.

And wait they did, because the now dead serious Mismagius remained silent for quite a while, somewhat surprised by that kind of welcome but certainly feeling the weight on her shoulders… or hat. That comment about bearing responsibility, well, she could really do without.

"So? We are an interesting group, we are still a bit new to each other, but we're all here no matter how many times we were told that this was going to be extremely dangerous. What I'm saying is," she looked closely at the drone while speaking, "we are determined to succeed. We will do our best!"

The Gardevoir listened closely as the Porygon spoke. Noticing one's sparkling eyes, she grew confident in the team's ability to succeed in their mission despite their less than stellar start. FCG looked at the Masquerain's camera with a new smile as Chrissy concluded her speech, and raised an enthusiastic thumb up for the occasion.

Applause was shortly lived, for the mouth of the dungeon yawned with a sudden, conspicuous wind, as though to inhale its visitors. Leaves shifted restlessly to beckon them in. Their movement flickered like holograms, and the cameras turned to static. The Porygon shared a knowing glance.

"Should you meet with dire circumstances, trigger your Rescue Badge for emergency evacuation," Pixel reminded for the final time, nodding toward the gleaming, winged emblems that were pinned to the scarves and bandanas of every member. "However, badges have not been trialled and safety is unassured. Only trigger them if all else fails."

"Your human vessels are under optimum care," tooted the Porygon2. "Do not fear. The world is with you, Players."

"Beware the mysterious wind," Larry beeped ominously.

"Good luck!" they unanimously cried.

As the last cheers faded, the heroes set their path on the hypnotic entrance to the Garden of Stone. They could delay no longer. The dungeon urged them to trespass into its depths, and together, they finally obliged.

Before they vanished, Pixel uttered one furtive request:

"Please… save Mother."

 
Back
Top